""No one hated it more than me; to this day, no one hates it more than me.""— David Fincher on Alien 3
Alien 3 (or in the title style ALIEN³, or sometimes with space A L I E N ³) is a 1992 American science fiction horror film directed by David Fincher and is the third film in the Alien franchise. The film was released on May 22, 1992. The film stars Sigourney Weaver as Ellen Ripley from the first two Alien films and co-stars Charles S. Dutton, Charles Dance, Lance Henriksen, and Paul McGann.
Alien 3 had faced a lot of issues during the production, including shooting without a script, nor various screenwriters and directors attached. It was supposed to be directed by Vincent Ward, but it was changed into several directors until they chose David Fincher, who was a fan of the Alien series and chosen to be director. When the movie was finally released on May 22, 1992, however, it received very mixed reviews from critics, which was considered inferior to the previous installments of the Alien franchise, and it underperformed at the American box office. However, it earned over $100 million outside North America. More than a decade later in 2003, Fox released an Assembly Cut of the film which has no involvement with David Fincher and it fixed a lot of issues and is considered to be better and received a better reception.
David Fincher eventually disowned the film in 2009 and blamed the film for the studio interference, deadlines and refuses to talk about a third Alien film ever again.
Following the events of Aliens, a colonial Marine starship USS Sulaco is on its way back to Earth. However, a stowaway Facehugger triggers fire on board, leading the ship to eject the slumbering Ripley, Newt, Corporal Hicks and the damaged android Bishop in an escape pod, and the pod crash-lands on Fiorina "Fury" 161, a barren world home to a foundry facility and penal colony inhabited by all-male inmates. The prisoners recover the pod, although the prison dog is attacked by a Facehugger hiding in the wreckage. Ripley is taken to the infirmary and tended to by Clemens, the prison's doctor. When she wakes, she is horrified to learn she is the only survivor of the crash. She is warned by the prison warden, Harold Andrews, that her presence may have disruptive effects. Ripley insists that Clemens perform an autopsy on Newt, secretly fearing that Newt may be carrying an Alien embryo. Her concerns prove unfounded and Clemens confirms Newt simply drowned in the crash. Nevertheless, Ripley insists the bodies are cremated. Despite resistance from the prison warden, Superintendent Andrews, the funeral goes ahead when Clemens covers for Ripley and claims there is a risk of communicable disease.
Elsewhere in the prison, a Xenomorph bursts from the prison dog named Spike, and the Xenomorph grows to full size, picking off several isolated prisoners. One such attack is witnessed by the unstable inmate Golic. However, Andrews dismisses his traumatized claims that a "dragon" was responsible and instead lays blame on Golic, a convicted serial killer. Seeking confirmation of her fears, Ripley recovers and reactivates the remains of Bishop, He verifies that there was a Xenomorph on the Sulaco and that it came with them to Fiorina in the escape pod. Ripley takes this information to Andrews, insisting they have to hunt the creature down. At the meeting room, the prisoners reveal that the facility has no weapons before rejecting her story, instead of blaming the recent deaths on unrest amongst the inmates caused by her arrival, the first woman any of them have seen in years. The Xenomorph suddenly ambushes Ripley and Clemens in the prison infirmary, killing him, and nearly slays Ripley, but then mysteriously spares her and retreats. Ripley then rushes to the cafeteria to warn the others. Andrews orders Aaron to take her back to the infirmary, but the warden himself is dragged into the vents and killed by the Xenomorph.
Ripley rallies the inmates and proposes they use highly flammable toxic chemicals stored at the facility to spark a fire and drive the Xenomorph into an unused nuclear waste storage tank, but suddenly, the Xenomorph cames back and kills Frank instantly, and his fire stick suddenly came down and causes an explosion, and killing a lot of prisoners, afterward, Ripley goes back to her EEV and she reveals that she has a chest-burster inside of her. Dejected, she goes to find the Xenomorph running loose in the prison, hoping it will kill her, but once again the creature refrains, sensing its future within her. Ripley next asks Dillon, the religious leader of the inmates, to end her life; he agrees to do so only if she helps them kill the adult creature first. They form a plan to lure the Alien into the foundry's molding facility, during the chaotic chase, many of the prisoners were killed during the chaotic chase. Ripley and Dillon manage to lure the creature into the mold, at which point Dillon sacrifices himself to ensure the plan's success. Surviving prisoner Morse pours the lead as Ripley escapes, apparently killing the Xenomorph. But it turns out the Xenomorph is still alive and it leaps from the molten metal and goes after Ripley. She activates the overhead fire sprinklers, causing the creature's exoskeleton to shatter from thermal shock, finally destroying it.
The Weyland-Yutani team is met by Aaron, who leads them to the foundry. The team's leader, a man who looks identical to the Bishop android, implores Ripley to come with them, promising to have the embryo inside her removed and destroyed. Seeing through his platitudes and realizing the company is only interested in the creature, Ripley refuses. Aaron is killed when he attacks the company man, while Ripley throws herself to her death in the facility's gigantic furnace just as the Queen erupts from her chest. As she dies, Ripley grabs the face-hugger and holds it to her to ensure it enters the fire. In the aftermath, the prison facility is closed down for good, and the sole surviving inmate, Morse, is taken away. Onboard the Sulaco's escape pod Ripley's recording from the first film plays for the final time in the EEV, and the transmission ends, and the EEV is turned off and the movie ends.
Bad Qualities that are Three Times Bad
- This is completely inferior to what made the first two Alien movies so great. In fact, it feels different with tons of boring, and unintentional comedy scenes and ego trips throughout the movie to the point where it didn't feel like a Alien movie. It has no huge amount of charm or heart from the first two films, whatever can exist.
- Production hell: This film had the most beleaguered production history out of the franchise, the details of which are the stuff of industry legend.
- After the success of Aliens, 20th Century Fox was keen to get production of a third film moving immediately. William Gibson submitted a draft featuring Hicks and Bishop fighting biomechanical xenomorphs on a space station, but his draft was rejected and he declined further involvement. At this point, the studio didn't want Sigourney Weaver back, and scripts were written with this fact in mind. Eric Red was brought onboard and penned a new script that had a spaceship discover the remains of the Sulaco crew (who were killed by the xenomorphs), before moving the action to a small town in an Earth-like biodome. Producers Walter Hill and David Giler disliked the script, and Red was ousted, with tentative director Renny Harlin also leaving soon afterward. Next, David Twohy came onboard and wrote a new script centered around a prison planet. Hill and Giler liked the script, but this too was rejected. (Twohy would take his script idea and eventually make Pitch Black with it.)
- By this point, nearly four years had passed since pre-production began. Vincent Ward was hired, and soon after, with Fox hiring Weaver back with a $4 million payday and a co-producer credit, Ward wrote a script with John Fasano where Ripley crashlands on a "wooden planet" filled with monks. At this point in production, 1/5 of the planned budget had already been spent, and Fox told Ward to rein in his plans (even prompting then-CEO Joe Roth to state "What the fuck is going on?" after hearing about Ward's plan to have Ripley be placed in a cryotube by "seven dwarves" in the finale). After butting heads with executives, Ward left the project.
- A rotating series of writers came in to try and improve the script during this time. Greg Pruss was hired to rewrite Fasano's "wooden planet" script but left after butting heads with Ward. Fasano then returned to rewrite his script, but he too had a falling-out with Ward. Larry Ferguson was then brought in to rewrite the Fasano script, and Fox complained that the treatment was not favorable towards the Ripley character. Finally, producers Walter Hill and David Giler did an emergency rewrite that combined Twohy's prison script and Fasano's religious elements.
- Assembling the cast had its own problems. The film is infamous for killing Newt and Hicks in the opening credits when the pods crash. Newt was something of a given, as the actress had aged too much to play her again and cryogenic suspension wouldn't give her the chance to age enough for a new actress. Hicks, however, was repeatedly shuffled between "main character" and "supporting" with each new draft before they decided to kill him off - Michael Biehn was so disgusted when he found it out that he demanded to be paid as much for his image being onscreen for a few seconds as he had for filming all of Aliens.
- And the reason Hicks kept shuffling back and forth was because the writers were told to work the film around Ripley's absence, as Sigourney Weaver was proving to be problematic. Between the two films, she had become a spokeswoman for gun-control group Handgun Control and was offended by the amount of weaponry present in the script. Very shortly before filming, one of the producers managed to woo her back to the project. Amusingly, it was by telling her that Ripley would be bald.
- David Fincher, who at that point only had a handful of music videos to his credit, was brought on board to helm the film. He was greeted with a long list of problems; a major set had already been constructed (a monastery set built before the setting was changed to a prison — but still kept, as a church inside the facility), the budget was running behind, the script was still incomplete and roles still hadn't been cast. After being informed by the executives that he had to include as many of the creative ideas the producers asked for, Fincher rushed into production to make up for lost time.
- Cinematographer Jordan Cronenweth fell ill from Parkinson's disease a few days into filming, necessitating a replacement in Alex Thomson. The kicker here is that a line producer for the film had lost his own father to the same illness and feared that working on the film might kill Cronenweth in his condition, meaning he arranged for the replacement based on personal experience.
- Somewhere along the line, Hill and Giler (the latter of whom referred to Fincher as a "shoe salesman" during a conference call with the studio) fought with Fincher for 2 months over the script, and he complained about their budgetary restrictions. They and screenwriter Rex Pickett (who was also hired to rewrite the second half of the duo's script) in turn abandoned Fincher and left him to finish the script himself. Fincher would end up rewriting lines and entire scenes on-the-fly during production, while trying to keep Fox (who were requesting daily updates from the set) at bay.
- Fincher was stymied at every turn by executives who attempted to stop him from shooting important scenes (including Ripley confronting the xenomorph in Fury 161's sub-basement level), forcing the director to grab a camera and skeleton crew and film it himself.
- Fox sent in a troubleshooter to investigate the spiraling production costs. A rough cut was screened for the crew, and reportedly made several audience members throw up due to a graphic autopsy scene. Hill and Giler were brought back onboard by the studio to give input, and it was deemed that the film had many issues that required significant reshoots (including a finale that was deemed too similar to Terminator 2: Judgment Day), and a pivotal sequence that had to be filmed (the death of the xenomorph!).
- Fincher (depending on which source you believe) either spent the next year attempting to edit the film, or was locked out of the editing suite altogether by the studio. The reshoots reportedly pushed the budget to $65 million, and were done in Los Angeles with almost an entirely new crew. This was reportedly the last straw for Fincher, who walked away for good at the end of the reshoots. Because of the breakneck pace of the reshoots, composer Elliot Goldenthal only had a single night to create a new piece of music for the reshot finale. The finished film was released in May 1992 to a mixed critical response.
- Even its post-production history was sordid. Fincher refused to come back and re-edit the film for the Alien Quadrilogy DVD set, as he was still bitter over the whole experience. Likewise, Fox executives severely cut down Charles Lauzirika's documentary on the film, "Wreckage and Rape", citing that it made the company look bad. It wasn't until 2010 that the uncut documentary (with the Censored Title of "Wreckage and Rage") was released on the Alien Anthology Blu-Ray set.
- Not a lot of things in the movie has the same power as the first two movies and the worst thing is the scare factor is far below than that of its predecessors.
- Most of the character development of the prisoners on the Fiorina 161 is terrible.
- Some parts of the soundtrack keep cutting out one after another.
- Tons of plot holes. For example:
- How did the Alien egg appear on the Sulaco at the beginning of the film?
- Ripley quickly jumping to suicide to avoid chest-burster's birth seems kind of far-fetched to add to the drama.
- Speaking of which, how did Ripley even get a chest-burster inside, even though she wasn't caught by the face-hugger from the first two movies?
- Almost none of the scenes have enough suspense, scary moments or any fun moments throughout the entire film. Instead, it has campy and boring moments, which were mainly caused by an unfinished script.
- The whole movie is very predictable. You can already get that Xenomorph runner is on a prison planet right before the prisoners meet their deaths by said Xenomorph.
- Awful treatment of the characters from the previous films:
- Newt and Hicks, two of the most beloved characters from the previous film die in the crash landing on Fiorina 161.
- Ripley started to become quite an unlikable character throughout most of the time, which was caused by Sigourney Weaver's massive ego trip.
- The pacing is a bit too slow, which is extremely inexcusable for a horror-action sci-fi film.
- The film keeps dragging, or padding on that makes the whole film feel even longer than it actually is.
- False advertising: In the teaser, the narrator states that "on Earth, everyone can hear you scream", implying that it was going to take place on Earth, but as said above, it is actually set on a prison planet and the Alien would not come to Earth until Alien vs. Predator. This is due to the script not being finished by the time the trailer was made.
- What's actually sad is that one of the trailers made the third film look like some amazing, suspenseful action horror film. The actual movie has a lot less action and suspense until the third act.
- Most of the characters played by Charles S. Dutton, Charles Dance, and Lance Henriksen (and even the other cast members who play prisoners) give bad performances as the prisoners and most of them are either bland, boring or unlikable. The characters also make very bad decisions and mistakes throughout the entire movie:
- There's a scene where Ripley finds Bishop in the junkroom and some of the inmates suddenly came in to attack her.
- While Ripley and the other prisoners are spreading the amitriptyline in the ventilation shafts in hopes to kill the Xenomorph runner, Frank uses his detonator stick on the ladder, which was a terrible idea, because the Xenomorph comes back to kill him.
- Even though the movie tries to have some emotional moments, most of those scenes just have more exposition rather than actually making you care.
- While most of the special effects are decent, the special effects on the alien for the corridor chase look terrible. The superimposition into the live-action footage is bad enough to the point you can see hints of green composition on the alien (the Alien footage wasn't color corrected, hence the green hue) and the movements are jerky.
- The ending is completely disappointing and abysmal, with nothing more than killing off the main protagonist at the end.
Good Qualities that are Three Times Good
- The idea of a prison in space full of inmates affected by a fictional syndrome is pretty nifty.
- Sigourney Weaver's performance as Ellen Ripley is still the good selling point of this movie.
- The scene where Ripley is sitting in against the wall in fear and being close to a Xenomorph runner is pretty iconic.
- Elliot Goldenthal's score is well done, and it does have suspense and creepiness too, even if some of the soundtracks keeps cutting out.
- Amazingly, Elliot Goldenthal did a very good job putting the suspenseful twist of the 20th Century Fox fanfare, as the opening credits starts.
- The cinematography isn't too bad.
- Even though it's not as good as the first two movies, there is the Assembly Cut on some home media releases, which tries to fix things and is considered better by the fanbase and critics alike.
- On the topic, the cut removes the chest-burster when Ripley committed suicide at the end of the movie.
- Aside from the poor chroma-keying, the special effects are decent.
- The design of the Xenomorph as a dog-like creature is actually pretty cool.
- Most of the effects are decent as mentioned above.
- The campy moments can be fun depending on your view.
The film was released on May 22, 1992, and was not well received by critics, audiences, or the fans of the first two movies, as it was met with mixed reviews. Alien 3 currently holds a 46% rating on Rotten Tomatoes from 61 reviews, with an average rating of 5.5/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Alien 3 takes admirable risks with franchise mythology, but far too few pay off in a thinly scripted sequel whose stylish visuals aren't enough to enliven a lack of genuine thrills." Metacritic assigned a weighted average score of 59/100 based on 20 critics, signifying "mixed or average reviews".
Both Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert gave the film two thumbs down on their show At The Movies, feeling it was repetitious, and they criticized the drawn-out chase scenes near the end of the film as well as the lack of suspenseful action, though they both praised the look and art direction of the film in addition to Weaver's performance.
Alien 3 opened up at #2 on its opening weekend grossing $19,449,867 domestically. It would later make a domestic gross of $55,473,545. In overseas markets, it made $104,340,953. Overall, the film grossed $159,814,498 worldwide against its $50 million budget and was a box office disappointment.
Seventeen years later
In 2009, just 17 years after the release of Alien 3, David Fincher stated in an interview with The Guardian that "No one hated it more than me; to this day, no one hates it more than me." He also blamed the producers for not putting the necessary trust in him. After that, David Fincher disowned the entire film for good, and he never brought the film up again.
- It was supposed to be directed by Vincent Ward, (mentioned above) and the film would have taken place on a planet Arceon, the wooden planet with aliens on it. For more information, look here on Cancelled Movies Wiki.
- YouTube users ramboraph4life and Lukimus Prime deem it as one of their most disliked films of all time and one of their most disliked sequels of all time. Lukimus Prime even regards it one of his most disliked Sci-Fi/Horror films of all time.